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Ten Christmases with a Kerry


1. Tuesday, December 25, 2007 

After graduating from college, I moved to California chasing a young woman. As a newly christened adult, I felt convinced a dog was the next reasonable maneuver. Kerry breeders turned up their noses at two twenty-somethings, but KBTF Rescue Coordinator Eileen Andrade welcomed us with open arms. As I sat in my quiet office (no vacation for the new guy), I received a call from Eileen about a “little peanut” who was located near Dallas. My girlfriend—who had vacation days—was in Dallas and went to visit the six month-old male the day after Christmas his foster home. We followed up with a donation to the KBTF, and ever since then I have been short on vacation and long on dog treats.

2. Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 was an interesting year thanks to a new puppy, a stock market crash, and one toe in the professional world with the other in academia. During my first year as a Kerry owner, I recognized how critical training would be and invested loads of time into working with our Kerry, Paddy Murphy. We cruised through the first three courses at our local dog trainer and by Christmas were putting our finishing touches on Canine Good Citizen training. Paddy had grown to be a bright, active dog with an unusually gentle disposition. We knew a Therapy Dog certification was in his future and worked through the holidays to prepare him not just for CGC, but for the TDI test that was surely to come.

3. Friday, December 25, 2009

Paddy was busy in 2009 as a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley and as my trail companion logging over 1,000 miles in the hills above the San Francisco Bay. This smart and fit two year-old was ready for his biggest challenge yet: helping me propose to my girlfriend. She said yes and set the stage for our first family Christmas as an officially engaged duo. Paddy’s role was changing from Bachelor Sidekick to First Child as he celebrated Christmas with this young couple on a chain restaurant patio in Milpitas, California.

4. Saturday, December 25, 2010.

Paddy’s athletic career peaked in 2010 when we completed a circumnavigation on the 140-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. He performed well; the humans not so much. He earned his Thanksgiving Turkey and Christmas Ham that year not just from mileage but also from performance in a key role: groomsman at our wedding. If I said he stole the show, I’d be lying. That was my bride who stole the show. But Paddy did just fine, and no one was supposed to be looking at me anyways. We celebrated Christmas as a married couple does—splitting time between multiple families. And then realized we had our own family with Paddy Murphy so resolved never to split time again..

5. Sunday, December 25, 2011

First Christmas in the snow! Paddy Murphy accompanied us on an overly long vacation to an overly gracious relative in beautiful Crested Butte, Colorado. His appetite for eating snow has never been more sated, and we had our first taste of his new favorite wintertime sport: cross-country skiing. We struggled incessantly with the tiny balls of ice that form on Kerry coats in snowy climes. These are a cruel reminder that all fun must come to an end.

6. Tuesday, December 25, 2012

After acquiring a keen appreciation for cross-country skiing, I felt it only right to sign up for a ski ultra-marathon in Alaska. I seldom dealt in moderation in those days. Paddy accompanied when he could, and his ability to sprint for 20 miles across icy paths never failed to outlast mine. When not in the mountains, we revisited the hills of the Bay Area, spending days on end running on the ridges overlooking the Golden Gate and San Francisco peninsula. How my wife tolerated our endless adventures, I’ll never quite be sure. I’m beginning to think she likes Paddy and me better when we’re exhausted. Thankfully that’s easier to come by now.

7. Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A week before Christmas I got word from Starwood Hotels that I had made Elite Platinum status. This capped an anemic year for trail mileage, ski trips, or therapy dog volunteering for my now 6 year-old Paddy Murphy. To make matters worse, my wife and I were expecting our first child—Paddy was about to lose his Elite Only Child status. We spent Christmas in Colorado again, but New Year’s was spent preparing our home for a new baby. Retiling the bathroom and painting the nursery were not activities Paddy was happy about. But at least there was snow.

8. Thursday, December 25, 2014

This Christmas I officially no longer needed day-long runs or epic ski races to make me tired, and neither did Paddy. With a 10-month old baby, everyone was exhausted all the time. Paddy settled into his role as big brother nicely and was kind enough to clean my son’s face. Even when it looked clean, Paddy always seemed to think it could use some cleaning. He ate the wrapping paper and attempted to eat a pair of remote control helicopters. They were obviously too dangerous to be used around his baby.

9. Friday, December 25, 2015

Paddy Murphy is no longer a Kerry Blue Terrier; this Christmas, he is a reindeer. Our toddler terrorizes the him, but it bothers Paddy not a bit. Paddy has now been certified as a Therapy Dog for six years and cannot be fazed by pulling on his beard, ears, tail, paws, or curly blue coat. He contributes vocally to a home that is increasingly full of laughing, crying, barking, yipping, and the occasional scream.

10. Sunday, December 25, 2016

God help us: Paddy is a big brother twice this Christmas. My wife and I struggle to keep it together as we look outward onto a 2017 where the only sure thing is an impending job change. Our saving grace is that Paddy Murphy makes an exceptional caretaker. I make a passable Santa, Paddy reprises his role as Rudolph, and my wife makes great mulled wine. Christmas goes swimmingly. I wish to work for people I believe in, and it comes true twice: first when I start volunteering with the KBTF in January, and again when I start a new day job in June.

Christmas 2017

Paddy is looking forward to Christmas #10 with his family. His coat is coarser than it was ten years ago. He has one less tooth, several more scars, and lots more lumps. He runs less and sleeps more, but the moment his boys enter the house, you could easily mistake him for a 1-year old puppy. The vigor with which his tail wags is matched only by the real estate he can cover with his big wet tongue. Our giggling sons chase him around the house, sleep on top of him in the afternoons, and practice commands with him like Sit, Stay, and Roll Over before dinner. The joy they and Paddy get from doing it right is fantastic. He is their nanny, brother, father, and mother. I can’t imagine our life without this dog, and I wouldn’t want to. I’m looking forward to Christmas #10, and this Christmas I’ll be asking Santa for 10 more.


Please join me in thanking the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation for the great work they do. The work the Foundation does for rescue, health, and genetics is invaluable for the breed. Without them, Paddy would have never left a roadside in Oklahoma. This Christmas, I’ll be giving to the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation, and I hope you will too. Will you join me by donating today?



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The Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation of Canada was initiated after the Shelbina Rescue brought four dogs to Canada for placement.

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